#79 No blog post today
I’m sorry to report that I do not have a blog post for today.
Hold on – doesn’t that sentence itself, especially when combined with this one, constitute a blog post?! After all, you can see for yourself that I am posting this on my blog.
But while this may constitute a logical puzzle, or conundrum, or paradox, it’s not really related to teaching introductory statistics, and it does not ask good questions, so I don’t know that you should consider this a legitimate blog post. I am only sending this out because some of you have been very nice to say that you look forward to hearing from me on Monday mornings, so I thought I should announce and explain that I have no blog post this week.
The explanation is simply that I’ve fallen behind, and today (Mon Jan 4) is the first day of classes for the Winter quarter at Cal Poly, and I’ve needed to spend my time on preparing for class rather than writing a blog post.
I will be teaching the second course in our two-course sequence for Business majors. The first course included basic ideas of data collection and analysis, a good bit of probability, and statistical inference for one variable. After a brief review, this second course entails inference for comparing groups, chi-square tests, analysis of variance, simple linear regression, and multiple regression. For good measure, the course concludes with brief introductions to time series and quality control.
This will be my second experience teaching an entirely online course. I’m feeling less nervous than I was at the start of the Fall quarter, but I also feel that this time I should set my sights higher than simply surviving the experience.
I have mentioned before that I give lots of quizzes to my students. I have already posted three quizzes before my class even begins. One is about a welcome video that I prepared, another about a video that introduces myself to students (which I wrote about in post #63, titled My first video, here), and a third about the course syllabus. I tell students that these quizzes essentially offer free points, because students are welcome to re-watch the videos and re-read the syllabus after they have seen the quiz questions.
Just for fun, here are some of the questions on these quizzes*:
- Which of the following is NOT a reasonable description of statistics? [Options: Confusing people with nonsense; gaining insights from data; Making decisions under uncertainty]
- How many quizzes will we have? [Options: A few; Lots; None]
- How should you interact with your classmates and instructor? [Options: With arrogance and condescension; With courtesy and respect; With rudeness and sarcasm]
- Are you responsible for practicing academic honesty? [Options: No; Only on odd-numbered dates; Only on Sundays; Yes]
- What is my teaching philosophy? [Options: Ask good questions; Insist on perfection; Learn by viewing; Rely on luck]
* I usually report the answers to my quiz questions, but this time I think I’ll trust you to figure them out for yourself.
I apologize in advance in case I need to return to “no blog post today” a few times in the coming weeks, but I will definitely return. Some topics that I have in mind include introducing students to the concept of power and questioning whether two-sided tests are always preferable to one-sided ones. I will also write about one of my favorite topics to teach, one that does not often come up in statistics courses but is especially relevant when teaching Business students: adjusting for inflation.
Best wishes for asking good questions in 2021!
P.S. Hey, wait a minute – did I just write a blog post today after all? [Options: Absolutely; Not even close; Well, kind of]
As usual, warmth and humor shines through in your non blog post. Best of everything to you in the new year and new semester!
Even with a non-blog-post post, I found that as usual you get me thinking and asking good questions of myself. Today one thing I am asking myself is one that I have asked myself before. “In an introductory statistics course of 16 weeks, only 2 hours and 50 minutes per week, what are the most important things to cover?” Many of us find that it is very hard to adequately cover all of the material, from samples and populations to 1 and 2-sample tests of hypothesis, linear regression, Chi-Square tests and ANOVA. I usually conclude that it is most important to give my students the best introduction to as many tools as I can, but if I can’t squeeze it all in, I focus more on statistical reasoning and what can go wrong in collecting and torturing data. I doubt that my conclusion is what the schools to which my students are transferring would conclude. Then I wonder what you would do, given the same set of constraints.
Thanks for this, Judy. Sorry for my slow response. I am in a similar, perhaps even smaller, boat. I teach 4-unit courses on the quarter system, so I have 4 contact hours per week for 10 weeks with my students. I agree completely to focus on statistical reasoning throughout. I also suggest focusing on fundamental ideas, such as observation vs. experiment, the logic of hypothesis testing, what a p-value is (and is not), and so on. I think the details of specific procedures can be presented quickly by keeping the focus on big ideas. And if you have the option, I’d prefer to “cover” fewer topics and do so well, as compared to including more topics with less care and attention. I tried to identify what I consider to be the most important topics in post #52 (to commemorate the completion of one year of weekly posts).
This is not a reply. Happy 2021.